UPDATE: Huronia West Ontario Provincial Police confirmed after publication that police have also concluded their investigation and will not be laying charges. The story has been updated to reflect this new information.
An investigation into the fatal shooting of a family dog in Nottawa, Ont., has concluded and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) has confirmed it will not issue any charges.
Riot, a three-and-a-half-year-old brindle Dutch shepherd, was shot on a property in the Clearview Township hamlet near the border of Collingwood on the afternoon of Nov. 25. He was in the backyard with his owner, Chelsea Smith, both of whom have lived on the property for three years, when he crossed a fence line where a neighbour had put out bait for hunting coyotes.
The neighbour shot the dog, which died 13 hours later after veterinarians in Collingwood and Toronto worked to save his life.
READ: 'We're lost:' Couple mourns after beloved dog shot by neighbour
Both Huronia West OPP and the MNRF were investigating the incident.
The MNRF confirmed conservation officers have concluded their investigation and no charges were laid.
Huronia West OPP confirmed on Dec. 14 they have also concluded their investigation and will not be laying charges.
Police issued a news release on Dec. 3, eight days after the incident, to confirm they were investigating "in conjunction with conservation officers from the Ministry of Natural Resources."
The MNRF did not provide further details on the investigation.
The shooting occurred within the Nottawa settlement area of Clearview Township, located off County Road 124.
According to Riot's owners, Smith and Matt Bell, their neighbour claimed he was shooting a coyote. Their dog was shot in the chest.
The MNRF stated there are no specific rules about hunting on property boundaries, and the ministry does not regulate baiting of coyotes for the purposes of hunting. Clearview Township does not have a bylaw to prevent putting out food for wild animals. People hunting coyotes must have a small games licence, and must not abandon or otherwise allow a coyote pelt to spoil.
"In most of southern Ontario, hunting and trapping of coyotes is open year-round. There is no tag requirement or limit on the number of coyotes that may be hunted in most of southern Ontario," stated an MNRF spokesperson in an email to CollingwoodToday.
The ministry also provided the following "basic rules and guidelines" for hunters:
- All hunters shall not possess or discharge a loaded firearm from a roadway or across a roadway.
- All hunters shall not possess or have a loaded firearm in or on a conveyance (vehicle).
- All hunters shall handle firearms with due care and attention for themselves and the public at all times.
- Always know your target and don’t shoot unless you are sure of your target and what lies beyond it.
- Never drink alcohol or take impairing drugs while hunting.
- Don’t trespass; it is your responsibility while hunting to obtain the permission of the landowner prior to entering on private lands.
- Carry your licences with you while engaging in a regulated outdoor activity such as hunting and be able to produce these licences to conservation officers.